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Panasonic Corporation
Native name
Panasonikku kabushiki gaisha
  • Matsushita Electric Manufacturing Works (1918–1935)
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (1935–2008)
TypePublic company KK
  • Electronics
  • Information technology
  • Construction
FoundedMarch 13, 1918; 104 years ago (1918-03-13)
Osaka, Japan
FounderKōnosuke Matsushita
HeadquartersKadoma, Osaka, Japan
Area served
Key people
Kazuhiro Tsuga
Yuki Kusumi
(President and CEO)
ProductsElectronics, home appliances, rechargeable batteries, software, real estate
Number of employees
259,385 (2021)
DivisionsPanasonic Corporation of North America (US)

Panasonic, formerly Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is a major Japanese multinational electronics corporation, headquartered in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan. It was founded by Kōnosuke Matsushita in 1918 as a manufacturer of lightbulb sockets. In addition to consumer electronics of which it was the world's largest maker in the late 20th century, Panasonic offers a wide range of products and services, including rechargeable batteries, automotive and avionic systems, industrial systems, as well as home renovation and construction.[1][2][3][4][5]

Panasonic has a primary listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX indices. It has a secondary listing on the Nagoya Stock Exchange.

Corporate name[edit | edit source]

From 1935 to October 1, 2008, the company's corporate name was "Matsushita Electric Industrial".[6][7] On January 10, 2008, the company announced that it would change its name to "Panasonic Corporation", in effect on October 1, 2008, to conform with its global brand name "Panasonic".[8] The name change was approved at the shareholders' meeting on June 26, 2008, after consultation with the Matsushita family.[9][10]

Brand names[edit | edit source]

National TV set from 1952

Panasonic Corporation sells virtually all of its products and services worldwide under the Panasonic brand, having phased out the Sanyo brand in the first quarter of 2012.[11] The company has sold products under a number of other brand names througout its history.

In 1927, Matsushita adopted the brand name "National" for a new lamp product.[12] In 1955, the company began branding audio speakers and lamps for markets outside Japan as "PanaSonic", which was the first time it used the "Panasonic" brand name.[13] The company began to use the brand name "Technics" in 1965 for audio equipment.[13] The use of multiple brands lasted for some decades.[13] While 'National' had been the premier brand on most Matsushita products, including audio and video, 'National' and 'Panasonic' were combined in 1988 as National Panasonic after the worldwide success of the Panasonic name.

In May 2003, the company announced that "Panasonic" would become its global brand, and launched the global tagline "Panasonic ideas for life."[14] The company began to unify its brands to "Panasonic" and, by March 2004 replaced "National" for products and outdoor signboards, except for those in Japan.[14] In January 2008, the company announced that it would phase out the brand "National" in Japan, replacing it with the global brand "Panasonic" by March 2010.[8] In September 2013, the company announced a revision of the decade-old tagline to better illustrate the company vision: "A Better Life, A Better World."[15]

History[edit | edit source]

20th century[edit | edit source]

Panasonic, then Matsushita Electric, was founded in 1918 by Kōnosuke Matsushita as a vendor of duplex lamp sockets.[16] In the 1920s Matsushita began regularly launching products. In 1927, he produced a line of bicycle lamps that were the first to be marketed under the National brand name.[17] During World War II the company operated factories in Japan and other parts of Asia which produced electrical components and appliances such as light fixtures, electric motors, electric irons, wireless equipment and its first vacuum tubes.[18]

After the war, the Matsushita group, largely having been split into MEI and MEW by the dissolution imposed by the occupation force, imperfectly regrouped as a Keiretsu and began to supply the post-war boom in Japan with radios and appliances, as well as bicycles. Matsushita's brother-in-law, Toshio Iue, founded Sanyo as a subcontractor for components after World War II. Sanyo grew to become a competitor to Matsushita, but was later acquired by Panasonic in December 2009.[19]

In 1961, Matsushita traveled to the United States and met American dealers. The company began producing television sets for the U.S. market under the Panasonic brand name, and expanded the use of the brand to Europe in 1979.[20]

The company used the National brand outside North America from the 1950s to the 1970s (the trademark could not be used in the United States because it was already in use).[21] The inability to use the National brand name led to the introduction of the Panasonic brand for products sold in the United States.[21] Over the next several decades Matsushita released additional products, including black and white TVs (1952), electrical blenders, fridges (1953), rice cookers (1959), color TVs and microwave ovens (1966).[21]

The company debuted a high-fidelity audio speaker in Japan in 1965 with the brand Technics. This line of high quality stereo components became a worldwide favorite, the most famous products being its turntables which were known for high-performance, precision and durability. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Matsushita continued to produce high-quality specialized electronics for niche markets, such as shortwave radios, and developed its successful line of stereo receivers, CD players and other components.

In 1968, Matsushita began to make rotary compressors for air conditioners, and, in 1971, it began to make absorption chillers, also for air-conditioning applications.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Panasonic continued to develop new markets including the VHS videocassette recorder/ player (which it co-developed with JVC) inverter air conditioners.[22][23] personal computers,[24] and software. It also expanded its global reach, both by establishing manufacturing outside of Japan — its first overseas factory opened in Malaysia in 1972 — as well as through partnerships, such as a joint venture with Anam Group in South Korea which it entered in 1973.

In the early 1990s, Matsushita made an ill-fated attempt to become a vertically integrated electronics and entertainment conglomerate, a move which was spurred by arch rival Sony's purchase of Columbia Pictures. In November 1990, Matsushita agreed to acquire an American media company MCA Inc., the predecessor of both Universal Music Group and Universal Pictures, for US$6.59 billion.[25][26] At the time, Matsushita had dominated the home video market with the company's leading position in the electronics market. It had gotten strengthened by VHS, the de facto standard of consumer videotape that Matsushita and JVC co-introduced. Matsushita believed it could become a leader in the film industry as well. However, Matsushita subsequently sold 80% of MCA to Seagram Company for US$7 billion in April 1995, demoralized by the high volatility of the film industry.[27][28]

2000 to present[edit | edit source]

In 2005, Matsushita Toshiba Picture Display Co. Ltd. (a joint venture between Matsushita and Toshiba created in 2002[29]) stopped production of CRTs at its factory in Horseheads, New York.[30] A year later, in 2006, it stopped production at its Malaysian factory, following heavy losses.[31][32][33] In 2007, it bought the venture from Toshiba, eventually ending all production.[34]

On January 19, 2006, Matsushita announced that it would stop producing analog televisions (then 30% of its total TV business) from the next month, to concentrate on digital televisions.[35]

In 2008, all models of electric shavers from the Panasonic factory were called Panasonic shavers, and they dropped Matsushita and National from their name, regardless of worldwide or Japanese markets.

In late 2006 Matsushita began talks with Kenwood Corporation to sell and spin off JVC.[36] As of October 1, 2008, JVC and Kenwood merged to create the JVCKenwood Corporation.[37]

On November 3, 2008, Panasonic and Sanyo announced that they were holding merger talks, which eventually resulted in the acquisition of Sanyo by Panasonic.[38][39] The merger was completed in December 2009, and resulted in a corporation with revenues of over ¥11.2 trillion (around $110 billion).[40]

With the announcement that Pioneer would exit the production of its Kuro plasma HDTV displays, Panasonic purchased many of the patents and incorporated these technologies into its own plasma displays.

In April 2011, it was announced that Panasonic would cut its work force by 40,000 by the end of fiscal 2012 in a bid to streamline overlapping operations. The curtailment is about 10 percent of its group work force.[41]

In October 2011, Panasonic announced that it was going to trim its money-losing TV business by ceasing production of plasma TVs at its plant in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture by March 2012, cutting 1,000 jobs in the process.[42] Also, it sold some of Sanyo's home appliances business to Haier.[43]

In January 2012, Panasonic announced that it had struck a deal with Myspace on its new venture, Myspace TV.[44] Myspace TV will allow users to watch live television while chatting with other users on a laptop, tablet or the television itself. With the partnership, Myspace TV will be integrated into Panasonic Viera televisions.[45]

On May 11, 2012, Panasonic announced plans to acquire a 76.2% stake in FirePro Systems, an India-based company in infrastructure protection and security solutions such as fire alarm, fire suppression, video surveillance and building management.[46]

In April 2012, Panasonic spun off Sanyo DI Solutions, a digital camera OEM.[47]

In line with company prediction of a net loss of 765 billion yen, on November 5, 2012, the shares fell to the lowest level since February 1975 to 388 yen. In 2012, the shares plunged 41 percent.[48] On November 14, 2012, Panasonic said it will cut 10,000 jobs and make further divestments.[49]

On May 18, 2013, Panasonic announced that it would invest $40 million in building a factory in Binh Duong, Vietnam, which was completed in 2014.[50]

In July 2013, Panasonic agreed to acquire a 13% stake in the Slovenian household appliance manufacturer Gorenje for around €10 million.[51]

In July 2013, Panasonic signed an agreement with Sony Corporation to develop Archival Disc, described as an optical disc format for long-term data archival purposes.[52]

In a press release following its announcement at IFA 2013, Panasonic announced that it had acquired the "Cameramanager video surveillance service" with the intention of expanding its reach to cloud-based solutions.[53]

In 2014, Panasonic Healthcare was bought by outside investors. Panasonic Healthcare was later renamed as PHCHD, which stands for Panasonic HealthCare HD.[54][55]

In July 2014, it was announced that Panasonic has reached a basic agreement with Tesla Motors to participate in the Gigafactory, the huge battery plant that the American electric vehicle manufacturer plans to build in the U.S.[56] In August 2014, Tesla said the plant would be built in the Southwest or Western United States by 2020. The $5 billion plant would employ 6,500 people, and reduce Tesla's battery costs by 30 percent. The company said it was looking at potential sites in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California.[57]

In October 2014, Panasonic announced its initial investment in Tesla Motors’ battery factory would amount to "tens of billions" of yen, according to the firm's CEO.[58]

In November 2014, Panasonic announced its partnership with Photon Interactive to create customized and personalized digital signs in stores.[59]

In January 2015, Panasonic announced it has stopped making TVs in China and plans to liquidate its joint venture in Shandong.[60]

In March 2015, Panasonic announced plans to buy Houston-based satellite communication service provider ITC Global.[61]

In April 2015, Panasonic announced its new range of products and relaunched its brand in South Africa. The company intends to use South Africa as a springboard into Africa, with Nigeria and Egypt as its initial targets.[62]

In June 2015, Panasonic struck agreements with three Australian energy utilities (Red Energy, Ergon Energy and ActewAGL) to trial its home-based battery storage options.[63]

In November 2015, Panasonic announced that it set up a new plant in Suzhou, China, through its subsidiary, Panasonic Ecology Systems Co., Ltd, to produce a new type of catalyst-coated diesel particulate filter (DPF) that decomposes matter contained in diesel engine exhaust gas.[64]

In November 2015, Panasonic starts to retail locally harvested produce from its indoor agriculture facility salads via Veggie Life branding in Singapore, from the very first licensed indoor vegetable farm in the country using Panasonic's own technology.[65]

In February 2016, Panasonic and the City of Denver formed a formal partnership to make Denver the "smartest" city in America. Joseph M. Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corp. of America, laid out the plans for the partnership in four key areas: smart housing and small offices, energy and utilities, transportation and city services and smart buildings.[66]

Due to increased competition from China, Panasonic's Li-ion automotive market share decreased from 47% in 2014 to 34% in 2015.[67] In June 2016, Tesla announced that Panasonic would be the exclusive supplier of batteries for its mass market vehicle Model 3. Batteries for the higher-end Model S sedan and Model X SUV will also be supplied by Panasonic.[68] In early 2016 Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga confirmed a planned total investment of about $1.6 billion by the company to construct Gigafactory to full capacity.[69] However, after the number of Model 3 reservations became known in April,[70] Panasonic moved production plans forward and announced a bond sale for $3.86 billion, most of it to be invested in Gigafactory.[71]

In 2016, Panasonic debuted a transparent TV.[72]

In July 2016, Panasonic unveiled its interest in making acquisitions in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning space. According to a source, the company has put aside $10 million for use in either an acquisition or joint venture.[73]

In August 2018, the company announced, to avoid potential tax issues Panasonic will move its European headquarters from the UK to Amsterdam in October as Brexit approaches.[74][75]

Panasonic Lumix S1R with prime lens 50 mm f/1.4 at Photokina in September 2018

On September 25, 2018, Panasonic became one of the founding members of the L-Mount Alliance, and announced two full-frame mirrorless cameras and a range of L-Mount lenses to be launched in 2019.[76] The 47-megapixel Panasonic Lumix S1R and the 24-megapixel Panasonic Lumix S1 will be the first full-frame mirrorless cameras produced by Panasonic and will offer the Lumix Pro support service for professional photographers. These cameras will also be equipped with Dual Image Stabilization technology to help photographers when shooting in low-light.[77]

In 2019, Panasonic sold its semiconductors and security systems (security camera) businesses.[78][79][80] The company also decided to completely exit from the liquid-crystal display panel business by 2021, marking the end of its display production, to focus its resources on the automotive and industrial businesses. Panasonic's LCD plant in Himeji, Hyogo will be overhauled to manufacture automotive batteries.[81]

In 2020, Panasonic exited the vending machine business, as it failed to achieve profitability, lagging behind rivals Fuji Electric, Sanden and Glory.[82][83][84]

Meanwhile, Panasonic has made an investment to take a 20% stake in Blue Yonder, the supply-chain management software company previously known as JDA Software, deepening the integration of the former's industrial connected technology and the latter's products that has been under way since a year ago.[85]

On November 19, 2020, Panasonic announced a restructuring set to be completed by 2022 in which the company spins off the domain companies as wholly owned subsidiaries while transforming itself into the holding company named Panasonic Holdings Corporation.[86] Panasonic's plans are similar to that its competitor, Sony, did on April 1, 2021, when Sony Corporation became Sony Group Corporation.

In January 2021, the company announced that it would put an end to its solar panel production.[87]

In March 2021, it was reported that Panasonic will buy Blue Yonder for $6.45 billion after buying a 20% stake in Blue Yonder for 86 billion yen in 2020. This deal is considered one of the biggest since 2011.[88]

In June 2021, it was reported that Panasonic sold its entire stake in Tesla for $3.6 billion.[89]

Current operations[edit | edit source]

As of March 31, 2012, Panasonic employed about 330,000 staff (reduced to around 260,000 by March 2020) and had around 580 subsidiaries.[90] Panasonic had total revenues of ¥7,846,216 million in 2012, of which 53 percent were generated in Japan, 25 percent in Asia (excluding Japan), 12 percent in the Americas and 10 percent in Europe.[90] The company invested a total of ¥520,216 million in research and development in 2012, equivalent to 6.6 percent of its revenues in that year.[90]

As of March 31, 2012, Panasonic held a total of 140,146 patents worldwide.[90] Panasonic was the world's top patent applicant for three decades, from the 1980s to the 2000s.[91] According to a research conducted by the European Patent Office in 2020, the number of battery-related patents having been filed by Panasonic from 2000 to 2018 was the second-highest in the world.[92]

As of July 2020, Panasonic's operations are organised into seven "domain companies": Appliances, Life Solutions, Connected Solutions, Automotive, Industrial Solutions, and two overseas branches overseeing the businesses in the United States and Asia. Each of these companies may comprise multiple subsidiaries conducting actual operations.[93]

Overseas operations[edit | edit source]

Panasonic Corporation of North America[edit | edit source]

Panasonic Corporation of North America is Panasonic's principal subsidiary in the United States. It has been headquartered in Newark, New Jersey since 2013, after being previously headquartered in Secaucus, since the 1980s;[94] both Newark and Secaucus are located within New Jersey's Gateway Region.

Founded in New York City at the MetLife Building in September 1959, it was known as Matsushita Electric Corporation of America (MECA) prior to 2005.

Panasonic Europe[edit | edit source]

Panasonic's principal subsidiaries in Europe are Panasonic Europe Ltd.[95] and Panasonic Marketing Europe GmbH.[96] Panasonic Europe is headquartered in London, England, but it is moving its headquarters to Amsterdam, Netherlands due to Brexit.[97] Panasonic employs around 12,000 people in Europe, and the region generates around 10 per cent of its total revenues.[98] In 2012, Panasonic had around a 10 per cent share of the consumer electronics market in Europe, ranking third behind Samsung Electronics (with 26 per cent) and LG Electronics (with 12 per cent).[98]

Panasonic operates a chain of stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland called "Panasonic Store" which exclusively sell Panasonic products. Prior to 2008 the chain was named "shop@Panasonic".

Panasonic India[edit | edit source]

Mr. Daizo Ito serves as Group President for Panasonic Regional Headquarters India (situated in Haryana) at Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd.[99] Panasonic India makes washing machines, refrigerators, electric rice cookers, electric irons, mixer-grinders/blenders and other home appliances for the Indian market.

Anchor Electricals Pvt. Ltd., an Indian company which makes electric lamps, switches, sockets and other electrical accessories, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation.

PT Panasonic Gobel Indonesia[edit | edit source]

PT Panasonic Gobel Indonesia (formerly known as PT National Gobel and PT National Panasonic Gobel) is the name of the company's Indonesia division based in Cawang, East Jakarta. Tomonobu Otsu is the current President Director and Rachmat Gobel is the current President Commissioner. It is a joint venture between Panasonic Corporation Japan and the Gobel Group of Indonesia.

Former operations[edit | edit source]

Products[edit | edit source]

Panasonic has offered a wide range of products and services, including air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, compressors, lighting, televisions, personal computers, mobile phones, audio equipment, cameras, broadcasting equipment, projectors, automotive electronics, aircraft in-flight entertainment systems, semiconductors, lithium batteries, electrical components, optical devices, bicycles, electronic materials and photovoltaic modules.[100] Ventilation appliances such as electric fans are manufactured under KDK and rebranded as Panasonic.

Environmental record[edit | edit source]

Panasonic is ranked in joint 11th place (out of 16) in Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks electronics manufacturers on policies and practices to reduce their impact on the climate, produce greener products and make their operations more sustainable.[101] The company is one of the top scorers on the Products criteria, praised for its good product life cycles and the number of products which are free from polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC). It also scores maximum points for the energy efficiency of its products with 100 percent of its TVs meeting the latest Energy Star standards and exceeding the standby power requirement.

However, Panasonic's score is let down by its low score on the Energy criteria, with the Guide stating it must focus on planned reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG), set targets to reduce GHG emissions by at least 30% by 2015 and increase renewable energy use by 2020.[101]

In 2014, an article in The Guardian reported that Panasonic will compensate its expatriate workers in China a "hazard pay" as compensation for the chronic air pollution they are subjected to as they work.[102]

Slogans[edit | edit source]

  • "Just slightly ahead of our time" (1970s–1990s)[103]
  • "Even more than you expected [out of the blue]" (1970s–1996 Australia)
  • "What's on Panasonic" (1990–1996)
  • "The quest for zero defect" (1990's-2003, South Africa)[104]
  • "Panasonic, The One That I Want" (1996–2003, USA)
  • "What's New by Panasonic" (1996–2003)
  • "Ideas for Life" (2003–2013, Global) [105]
  • "A Better Life, A Better World" (2013–present)[106]
  • "Wonders!" (2014–present)
  • "Let's Live Life Better" (2017–2018)

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

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